The Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK to reducing carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 and the EU Renewable Energy Directive requires the UK to meet 15% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020.
Measures have been adopted in recent years aimed at increasing the delivery of renewable energy. These include changes to the planning system and the introduction of financial incentives to encourage the installation of renewable energy infrastructure.
Capacity studies indicate that there are significant constraints on the production of renewable energy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Consequently the Park will contribute only modestly to regional capacity. Renewable energy will be generated through “microgeneration” – chiefly small-scale wind, solar, hydro, biomass and anaerobic digester technologies. The geology of the Park is not conducive to the presence of oil or gas that could be developed by fracking.
The main contribution of the Yorkshire Dales to national targets will be through its carbon “sinks” – woodlands and peatland, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
With only very limited mains gas supplies, energy choices are restricted in the National Park. Reliance on domestic oil, LPG, and solid fuels to heat properties has left many households vulnerable to fuel poverty, and has a negative effect on the viability of local businesses, especially farms.
- We acknowledge the threat that climate change will have a major impact on the wildlife and landscape of the National Park as well as the livelihoods of those who live in it.
- We broadly support the strategy set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
- We support the need for a sustainable energy policy that reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, minimises the use of non-renewable power sources and the production of waste, optimises the use of renewable energy sources, and enhances landscape character where possible.
- We support enabling the National Park’s communities and businesses to meet their energy needs in a cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly manner, without compromising the Special Qualities of the area.
- We support the National Park Authority’s presumption against proposals for large-scale low carbon and renewable energy development, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they will be compatible with the Special Qualities of the National Park, and its communities and businesses. (Large-scale means, for example, developments of more than one wind turbine, or a single turbine with a ground to hub height of 15 metres or more).
- We support single small wind and hydro schemes serving individual properties, or community energy schemes (including anaerobic digesters), provided that they do not harm landscape character or natural beauty.
- We support building-mounted solar projects provided their design is of an acceptable quality. We will only support ground-mounted solar farms if they are located where they provide local benefits and do not harm the natural beauty and productivity of the countryside.
- We agree with National Park Authority’s view that small-scale technologies can be problematic within protected landscapes, in that they may jar with traditional buildings and landscapes, especially when retrofitted. Planning decisions must therefore be on a case-by-case basis.
- We support schemes to place energy transmission and distribution lines underground in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
What we will do
- We will encourage measures designed to reduce the demand for energy.
- We will evaluate energy-related planning applications on a case-by-case basis in the light of the policies above.
- We will seek to ensure that the National Park Management Plan and Local Plans include strategies and policies which encourage the development of small-scale renewable energy infrastructure and promote energy efficiency measures.
- We will be mindful as an environmentally-focused Society of the need to minimise our own carbon footprint.